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K&L Staff Recommendations
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "The bouquet features smells of new car leather, breakfast cereal, cornmeal, pepper and hemp. Entry is nicely sweet and intensely grainy; the midpalate is the high point as the taste profile expands to include semisweet flavors of caramel corn, toasted marshmallow, dried fruit and chocolate covered cherry. Concludes oaky sweet and chewy." (12/2008) K&L Notes: You know it, you love it; it's ten years old, bottled in bond, single cask, 100 proof, old school Kentucky Bourbon from Heaven Hill. Incredible value by any measure.
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "**Best Buy** Lush and rich, this honeyed whisky is loaded with dense notes of creamy custard and tropical fruit, finishing with a flourish of baking spice." (12/2013) K&L Notes: Gold Medal winner in the 2007 International Wine & Spirit Competition. The Glenfiddich 12 Year is distinctively fresh and fruity with a hint of pear on the nose. The palate for this single malt is characteristically sweet, with undertones of butterscotch, cream, malt and a hint of oak. It finishes long, smooth and mellow. See for yourself why this is one of the world's most popular single ma... Read More »
At first we couldn't believe our mouths. We knew that Cut Spike single malt had just taken Double Gold honors at the 2014 San Francisco Spirits competition (the highest possible honor), so obviously other people thought it was good, too. But after tasting so many mediocre American attempts at single malt whisky, we had become accustomed to the idea that the Scottish style of distillation would never be recreated here at home. There would be spin-offs, and experimental grasps at greatness, but that supple, malty profile would simply be something we needed... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Vibrant gold with orange highlights, fruity scent of apples and pears plus a whiff of vanilla. Soft, velvety feel. This is a pleasant and drinkable Scotch, but the flavors are relatively muted. It mixes well with other flavors, making it a good contender for cocktails. Good value." (12/2011) Whisky Advocate: "As with the ‘Fiddich (reviewed in this issue), here’s a malt where an improved wood policy has brought a dram to life and added complexity. The Glenlivet has always been about lightness, but the trick is to have sufficient solid base to allow its flower to blossom, so ...Read More »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "**Best Buy** Soy sauce, olive brine, peat, honey, oloroso Sherry, brewer’s yeast, bread dough, barley malt and cigar smoke in the bouquet. The flavor that magically includes the innate intense peatiness of Islay malts and the masterly employment of oak barrels phase defines “classy Islay.” Concludes sweetly, without sacrificing the tangy, astringent peatiness that is inherent. Gorgeous." (4/2004)94 points Whisky Advocate: "An old classic, but how do the newest bottlings fare? Rich, chewy, slightly oily texture. Deep peat, thick smoke, iodine, brine, charcoal, seaweed, tea (Earl Gr ...Read More »
95 points Whisky Advocate: "With the Ardbeg 17 year old off the market, it's nice to see a new Ardbeg in the line-up. Uigeadail costs about the same as the Ardbeg 17 did but, with Uigeadail, you're getting a much more interesting whisky. Uigeadail consists of a marriage of younger whisky (from 1990 and 1993) with much older whisky matured in sherry casks. The marriage works exceptionally well, with the younger whiskies providing the classic Ardbeg intensity many of us have come to expect, while the older whiskies contribute depth, maturity, and complexity. And bottling the whisky a ...Read More »
We've been doing gin and single malt for years, and now rum, so why not throw our hat in the bourbon pool? One of the obstacles that kept us from making a Faultline bourbon earlier was availability: the current demand has made the extra barrel a thing of the past. One of the only distilleries that would sell us a cask for a private label was the old LDI distillery in Indiana, but with the already overcrowded LDI market (Bulleit Rye, Templeton Rye, High West, etc) we didn't think our product would be different enough, or of the quality we desired, for the... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* A good workhorse for all manner of cocktails, this bright amber Bourbon has a butterscotch aroma and oaky, relatively dry flavors that elongate into a rich caramel finish." (7/2013)90 points Whisky Advocate: "Light bronze color. Thick, mature aromas, with notes of subtle spice (vanilla, mint), toffee, light molasses and leather. Adding a little water revealing notes of teaberry, anise, and dark candied fruit. Pleasantly sweet at first in flavor, with notes of brown sugar and spice (vanilla, mint), becoming dry with enveloping flavors of oak and leather. With a little wa ...Read More »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Superb/Highly Recommended* First nosing exposes dry scents of walnuts, grass and dark toffee. Entry is malty and vanilla—extract bittersweet; midpalate is silky, creamy, Sherry sweet, pruny and black raisin-like. Ends on a dark chocolate note that's chewy, medium-sweet and satisfying." (11/2008) K&L Notes: The Balvenie Doublewood Single Malt Scotch Whisky is a 12 year old single malt which gains its distinctive character from being matured in two woods. During its period of maturation The Balvenie Doublewood is transferred from a traditional oak whisky cask to a fi... Read More »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Superb/Highly Recommended* Sophisticated and delightful aromas of tangerine and rhubarb. The palate entry is delightfully citrusy and sweet; the midpalate phase offers just enough herbal bitterness to balance. Ends up refreshing, orangey sweet and delectably herbal. This deserves to become a popular pre-dinner quaff." (8/2007) K&L Notes: Aperol's unique flavor and color is achieved through a subtle blend of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb and an array of herbs and roots--using a secret recipe that has been unchanged since its first creation in 1919. Try the classic ... Read More »
For three long years, David Othenin-Girard and I have been trying to create an inexpensive, delicious, value-driven, yet simultaneously interesting expression of blended Scotch whisky that we could feature under our Faultline label. There were many times when we thought we were close, but either the quality of the whisky or the cost of the barrels proved prohibitive. We didn't want to make a $25 bottle of whisky just for the sake of it. If we were going to do it, then we were going to it right. Finally, after working on and off with the Laings for a year... Read More »
From St. George distillery: Terroir Gin is our ode to the wild beauty of the Golden State. Distiller Lance Winters has a passion for exploring place and memory through distillation, and the aromas of the coastal forests on California's Mount Tam were what inspired him to start making gin in the first place. Terroir Gin has an intense earthy, woodsy nose and flavor derived from Douglas fir, California bay laurel, and California coastal sage complemented by bright, citrusy top notes. This is a unique and proudly Californian gin with a sense of place and po... Read More »
Astrid Hubert has taken over her family's apple distillation business with a desire to bring Calvados into the modern generation. She wants to make her estate's brandy more fruit-forward and more feminine in style -- "After all, I am a woman!" she told us during our visit in 2013. It took us a year to come up with a marriage of casks we thought worked, but the wait was worth it: for $29.99 there has never been an apple brandy this good on the American market. The juicy apple flavor simply bursts on the first sip, the fruit taking front and center stage a... Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Top 50 Spirits 2013 & Best Buy* Golden and bright, this straight bourbon whiskey is one of the most versatile around. Though it starts with a sweet flavor profile with hints of vanilla and cookie dough, it finishes supple and dry, with notes of leather, black tea and cinnamon. Bracing alcohol levels." (7/2013) Whisky Advocate: "Soft, elegant, and nicely rounded, with honeyed orchard fruit and gentle spice on a bed of vanilla and caramel. Very versatile; a pleasing, unchallenging bourbon to suit most moods and situations. I actually like it better than the new, older 10 ye ...Read More »
The romantic story of Monkey 47 gin is as follows: in 1951, a British man named Montgomery Collins moved to Germany's Black Forest and opened a guesthouse named "Zum wilden Affen" -- the wild monkey. A renowned gin drinker, Collins' taste for the spirit was not particularly renowned until renovation work at the country guesthouse led to the discovery of a weighty old wooden box containing a bottle and a letter. The dusty bottle had been labeled and decorated by hand, showing a sketch of a monkey and the words "Max the Monkey - Schwarzwald Dry Gin" in bla... Read More »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "The initial aroma is sweetish, winey and oaky; aeration allows the aroma to expand to include marzipan, treacle, molasses, honey, vanilla bean, cinnamon and cocoa butter. The palate entry is sweet, creamy and assertive; at midpalate the flavor becomes intensely nutty, buttery and bacon fat-like, with the beginnings of rancio. Remains one of Speyside's standard-bearer 12 year olds." (4/2008) K&L Notes: In his book, Kindred Spirits, international Whisky authority Paul Pacult describes The Macallan 12 as "simply the best 12 Year Old single malt around," and we wholehear... Read More »
92 points Whisky Advocate: "Amber with gold streaks. Its aroma and flavor is fresh, powerful, and medicinal, with notes of peat smoke, band-aids, tar, rich toffee, seaweed, and brine. Thick in body, with an almost molasses-like viscosity." Wine Enthusiast: "Aromas of new shoe leather, iodine, smoked trout, flowers, intense grain, soft cheese, peat-reek and dried seaweed. The palate entry is pleasantly smoky and grainy sweet; the midpalate flavors range from olive brine, seaweed, iodine, and wood smoke to baked pear, toffee and marshmallow. Concludes warm and toasty." (12/2007) K&L Notes: This 10 year old malt epit... Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "Look for rich, rounded flavors with lots of honey, vanilla and baking spice notes. The palate is creamy, with a mouth-filling texture and smoky finish." (12/2013) Wine Spectator: "A deceptive delight that starts sweet with honey, leather and orange peel on the nose, then turns to spice on the palate. After a spot of honey on the tongue tip, the spices come on in earnest, with cinnamon and ginger. Leaves a long, spicy finish. Three types of cask: Sherry, Bourbon and new oak." (2/2011) K&L Notes: Awarded Double Gold Medal at the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Just when you think you've tasted every type of booze known to man, you discover that there are yet more regionally-specific spirits being distilled in places you've never considered. Like Bolivia, for example. South America is generally rum country, but in Bolivia they make a pisco-like spirit called Singani, distilled from Muscat of Alexandria grapes grown high in the Andes mountains. Seeing that Muscat is an aromatic varietal, known for its fruity and floral character, the Singani spirit distilled from it takes on many of the perfume-like elements fou... Read More »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "Intensely woody aromas and succulent marshmallow, bakery and lanolin scents spring forth. The fat palate entry oozes butter cream, dark caramel, and brown sugar tastes; the midpalate focuses more on the grain aspect as the flavor becomes toasty, fruity and honeyed. Ends honey sweet, decadent and maple-like. An unbelievable bargain." (4/2007) K&L Notes: Named North American Whiskey of the Year at the 2006 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Best Buy of the Year at the 2006 WhiskeyFest. Rye was the first Colonial American whiskey, and was the most popular spiri... Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Top 50 Spirits of 2011* This dark, mysterious vermouth is rich, complex and layered, boasting aromas of mint and other herbs, plums and figs, reminiscent of Madeira. The rich flavors are hard to pin down: cocoa, red wine, almonds, bitter marmalade, hints of spice and toffee all play across the palate, finishing with a bracing bitter edge. This delectable sweet vermouth would shine in a Manhattan." (2/2011) K&L Notes: The world's most beloved sweet vermouth, now in a size that won't oxidize before you can finish the bottle! Hooray!
With a nod to Charles Dickens, the folks at Ferrand teamed up with renowned cocktail historian David Wondrich to create a serious pineapple rum that focuses completely on flavor, rather than sweetness. Made by infusing the flesh of pineapples in the standard Plantation Dark Rum. Then, seeking more aromatics, Ferrand distilled the pineapple rind with the classic white rum, then blended the two and matured them for an extra period in barrel. The result is something completely unexpected and absolutely delicious. Not at all sweet, goopy, or in the vein of M... Read More »
Grain whisky is one of the least understood components of the whisky world. When you sip a blended Scotch like Johnnie Walker or Suntory's Hibiki, you're drinking a blend of two types of whisky -- both single malt and grain -- hence the term "blend" (many people assume the "blend" refers to the blend of various distilleries). While we've gone out of our way here at K&L to help our customers understand 100% malted barley single malt whisky, we've never really talked very much about grain whisky -- mostly because there's very little of it available! Grain ... Read More »
The famed French vodka for your favorite cocktail. Made in a copper pot still from a fine blend of French wheat and water from the Gensac Springs in Cognac.
Wine Enthusiast: "The nose offers wave after wave of botanical and floral perfumes, with the end bouquet focused on cucumber and spring garden floral scents. The palate entry is moderately oily, semisweet and gently herbal; the midpalate stays spirity, vegetal and earthy. The aftertaste features juniper with a dry and minerally undertaste." (11/2006) K&L Notes: We love this new gin coming from Scotland. This handcrafted gin has been infused with cucumber and rose petals. Very aromatic with a smooth sweet flavor and very long length. Try it over ice with thin slices of cucumber!
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "This dark, mysterious vermouth is rich, complex and layered, boasting aromas of mint and other herbs, plums and figs, reminscent of Madeira. The rich flavors are hard to pin down: cocoa, red wine, almonds, bitter marmelade, hints of spice and toffee all play across the palate, finishing with a bracing bitter edge. This delectable sweet vermouth would shine in a Manhattan." (2/2011) K&L Notes: Carpano's Antica Formula, from the original recipe developed by Antonio Benedetto Carpano in 1786, is a sweet vermouth of the highest quality. This distinctive and powerful arom... Read More »
90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best buy. Top 50 Spirits of 2009* Initial aroma is caney, grassy and fruity. Palate entry is crisp, moderately sweet and properly bittersweet in bearing; midpalate displays excellent balance, sweetness level, medium-bodied texture, and even some background cinnamon spiciness. Finishes long, crisp, nicely sweet and caney, and delicious." (7/2009) K&L Notes: Created in 1910, its luminous, golden amber glow and distinct floral and spicy notes have pleased, ever since, the palates of connoisseurs the world over. Its subtle, balanced blend perfectly harmonizes taste and ... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* This amber whiskey is made with 95% rye, which puts it on the very high-rye side of the spectrum, and gives it a spicy zip. In some ways, this evokes an ultradry version of an orange liqueur, with juicy orange notes dusted with black pepper, clove, nutmeg and a faint hoppy note." (7/2012) Whisky Advocate: "No age statement, but it includes 4 to 7 year old whiskeys. The mashbill is 95% rye - much higher than most standard rye whiskeys out there. It’s brisk, vibrant, and loaded with spice (crisp mint, warming cinnamon, cocoa, hint of anise). Fruit - ripe nectarine ...Read More »
My friends the Morrisons over at A.D. Rattray have really outdone themselves with this, their fantastic Bank Note Blended Scotch for $19.99 a liter!!! Now, granted, some of the high-browed single malt drinkers out there might not even flinch about something like this, but trust me, anyone interested in pouring a whisky on the rocks is going to have a new house bottle--forever. At this price and for whisky this drinkable, I can't see anyone coming close to touching the Bank Note. The sherry influence is there, soft vanilla and all that, and the grain come... Read More »
From the distillery of Enrique Fonseca, the man behind the legendary K&L Fuenteseca, comes this value-priced label of liter-sized tequila that seems almost too good to be true. I'm willing to bet we'll have a problem selling the Cimarron selections, rather than the ridiculous success we should experience, simply because people will wonder why it's so cheap? Don't let the price tag sway you, however -- this is clean, fresh, easy-drinking tequila made from 100% agave that is definitely up to Enrique's high standards. This blanco is cleaner and lighter than... Read More »
Ketel One is made in Holland. It is a family-owned business which has been carrying on the tradition of vodka-making for eleven generations. They report that the focus at Ketel One is quality, tradition and personal commitment to their customer. This shows in their vodka by offering only the heart of each distilate, tasted by a member of the family before it is released. One of the best Martini vodkas available.
Chateau Maouhum is today being completely run by Christelle Lasseignou, who began to take over for her parents more than a decade ago. Don't let her stylish clothes and her good looks fool you, she's a farmer through and through. She does everything at the chateau herself, from the vineyards to the distillation, to the management of the barrels. We were very excited to taste her stuff and even more impressed after we had finished. One of our favorite things about Chateau Maouhum is that the vineyards are just a few steps from the warehouse, so you can ge... Read More »
Chateau de la Grangerie is a property that was built in the 17th century right next to an old monastery. The church and the housing for its servants was actually built in the 11th and 12th centuries and since the Armagnac is aged inside that facility, it might be the only spirit at K&L matured on hallowed grounds. Like many Tenereze producers, Grangerie distills only ugni blanc for its brandies. However, the sandy and gravel-rich soils are much more like the terrain found in the Bas-Armagnac. They fill about ten barrels a year; two of which are used for ... Read More »
96 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Top 50 Spirits of 2011* There’s no mistaking this classic apéritif, from the vibrant melted lipstick-red color to the distinctive signature bitter finish, clean, clear and strong. It’s high, bitter and faintly floral-fruity in scent. Americanos and Negronis wouldn’t be the same without this jewel-like spirit." K&L Notes: From the producer: "A unique and unmistakable recipe has characterized Campari, the aperitif par excellence, for over 150 years. The inimitable Campari recipe, used as the basis of many cocktails served worldwide, has been kept the same since its i... Read More »
If you want a rum with pure island spirit, this may be it. The One Barrel rum, from the country of Belize, smells like a tropical breeze with its aromas of passion fruit, hibiscus and papaya. On the palate it is smooth and round, with just a hint of molasses flavor lingering in the background. Perfect for mixing. In June 2008 the editors at Men's Journal gave it a nod, saying: "The uncommon rum worth seeking out is Travellers 1 Barrel ($22). Made at a small distillery in Belize, it boasts a memorable flavor that's slightly sweet, slightly nutty, with som... Read More »
93 points Whisky Advocate: "Fresh, vibrant, and beautifully complex. A clean, malty foundation accentuated by bright complex fruit, delicate spice, dried flowers, and gentle honeyed vanilla notes that linger on the palate. This is a wonderful whisky which is very versatile, but I can only imagine what it would taste like at 46% and unchill-filtered like the wood finish expressions. (Vol. 17, #2) Reviewed by: John Hansell"90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Smooth and mellow, like nuts drizzled with honey or Bit O’Honey candy, with a light vanilla finish. Matured in Bourbon casks for 10 years." (12/2011) Wine Spectator: "Even without a ...Read More »
This series from Cadenhead is becoming legendary. Of course the prices for old HP are through the roof, but this bests sherried malts at five times the price and will not disappoint any lover of the special Orkney distillery.
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "Deep color, medium-to-heavy feel. Strong, sweet fragrance with wood and spice tones. Butterscotch candy flavors, so strong I almost hear cellophane unwrapping, are echoed by some oak, caramel and vanilla. Smooth, not too much alcohol fire. Mellow, long finish with a touch of herbal and anise notes" (10/2010) K&L Notes: Coming from the great master distiller Parker Beam, the Elijah Craig 12 year old Bourbon has to be one of the best 12 year old bourbons on the market! Great balance of sweetness and spice. Also, at 94 proof, it has just the right amount of kick.
The newest incarnation of Tanqueray's limited edition gin series is here, a la the Malacca and Old Tom in recent years. The Bloomsbury is an homage to Charles Waugh Tanqueray, the son of founder Charles Tanqueray, and his recipe for gin dating back to the 1880s, when the distillery was located in Bloomsbury, London. Using a heavy juniper berry formula, along with coriander, angelica, winter savoury and cassia bark, the result is a delicately fragrant spirit with a lovely balance of flavor. The juniper is front and center giving the Bloomsbury a classic L... Read More »
This vintage Kentucky bourbon is incredibly easy to drink. It's a honeyed gold hue, with aromas of caramel, vanilla, spice and smoke that are plush and honeyed on the palate. Undertones of apple, orange zest and spice fill in the palate and continue onto the finish.
Whisky Advocate: "A much-beloved malt in the U.S. Some say it’s because it is easy to pronounce (though having said that, remember it’s ‘OH-bin’ and not ‘O’Bahn’). I’d prefer to think its popularity is because there is something about the fresh cleanliness of the nose, its orange oils, chocolate, and zesty-zingy and yes, occasionally salty spiciness that is instantly appealing. (Vol. 21, #2)" Wine Enthusiast: "The early aroma is a combination of malt, wood and sea breeze; the later bouquet is a deliciously harmonious, even creamy marriage of maritime atmosphere and malted barley. Palate entr ...Read More »
One of the more interesting and intriguing independent bottlings of bourbon since Black Maple Hill went out of production, the Lost Republic whiskey is made of three different bourbons from three different states: Indiana, Tennessee, and California. Matt Weese and his team in Healdsburg are contracting spirit and aging the barrels separately in their Napa warehouse, using them to create a fruity, grainy, and gritty style of American whiskey. The fruity, young whiskey aromas are potent on the nose, but the woody, vanilla notes balance out the youth on the... Read More »
Fernet Branca is an Italian amaro developed in 1845. The family's secret recipe still has never been disclosed, but what they can tell you is that it is a combination of 27 different herbs picked in four continents and aged for more than a year in oak casks. Perfect as a digestive, try it with your meal.
Basil Hayden's Bourbon dates back to 1796 when Master Distiller Basil Hayden Sr. created a new bourbon recipe using a traditional corn base, but adding small grains into his mash. The results showcased the spicy flavors of rye, which complemented the sweetness of corn. Today Basil Hayden's is aged for eight years at a relatively mild 80 proof, and glints like liquid gold in the glass. Its spicy-sweet perfume shows hints of peppermint and black tea and its flavors are spicy, peppery and honeyed, with a light body and a gentle bite. According to Patterson'... Read More »
From the official Angustura website: "Made with the same original secret recipe since 1824, the world famous Angostura aromatic bitters remains the quintessential and definitive ingredient for classic and contemporary cocktails. Its versatility, however, stretches way beyond the bar counter as it serves as a unique flavour enhancer with the ability to marry flavours in the preparation of all food dishes. Angostura aromatic bitters also adds its unmistakable flavour and aroma to 'soft' beverages and desserts."
96-100 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Classic/Highest Recommendation* The nosing passes pick up seductive aromatic notes of toasted walnut, dried red fruits, marzipan, black pepper, spices, cocoa and marshmallow. Entry is zesty, fruity, candied and almost Sherry-like; the midpalate bursts with flavors of cocoa, dark chocolate, chocolate covered almond, coffee, tobacco and dark caramel. Ends smooth, silky, toffee sweet and honeyed. Wow." (12/2008) K&L Notes: This is what Buffalo Trace refers to as their "Rye Recipe" bourbon. It is not a straight rye whiskey, but instead a straight bourbon whiskey with a... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
96-100 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Classic/Highest Recommendation* The seductive bouquet offers wonderfully floral, fruity, guava- and melon-like fragrances of elderflower, becoming richly pear- and quince-like following aeration time. The palate entry is soft and firm; the midpalate is integrated, harmonious and exquisitely balanced between alcohol level, sweetness, acidity and floral impact. A perfect liqueur." (4/2008) K&L Notes: Double Gold Medal at the 2007 and 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, plus *Five Stars/Highest Recommendation* from Paul Pacult of the Spirit Journal and Wine E... Read More »
Buffalo Trace was named Distiller of the Year by Whisky Magazine in 2005 and 2007 and by the Wine Enthusiast in 2006. Paul Pacult of the The Spirit Journal gave it four stars and said: "Easily one of the most tactile yet assertive and expressive bourbons I've tasted in the last two years; fasten your seatbelts." Honey-colored, with aromas of toasted wheat bread and hints of tobacco, opening up to almond butter, melon and lanolin. On the palate it is oily and toasty with flavors of cereal grains and oak. The finish is long and corn sweet with a little spi... Read More »